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Old November 7, 2018, 12:43 AM   #1
gregnsara
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AR 15 defense ammo

Just wondering what everyone's opinion is for the best AR15 defensive bullet to load? I have a 223 Wylde 18" barrel with 1:7 twist. I don't have much experience with 223/5.56 so I'm not sure what round would be best.
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Old November 7, 2018, 09:10 AM   #2
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This question is sort of arbitrary... the issue with the AR (or the .223 in general) is overpenetration in an urban environment. If you live in the sticks, it becomes a more viable question, though.

For the sake of discussion, however, I have a magazine loaded with 55grn soft points. My AR's are about 3rd down the 'defensive posture' list... I would have to empty my 12ga and my 2 9mm's first.

There are other specific rounds tailored to defense... Hornady's TAP ammo, and things like frangible ammo.
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Old November 7, 2018, 09:21 AM   #3
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I don't think .223 over-penetrates as much as a 12 ga (unless you use birdshot) or a 9 mm handgun.

I would just use 55 grain soft points or FMJ's. Maybe have one magazine loaded with 62 grain green-tips in the unlikely event you end up in an extended fire-fight and need the extra penetration to defeat light cover or body armor.
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Old November 7, 2018, 08:21 PM   #4
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I keep my .223 house gun loaded with 50 grain JHP. Inside @ 10' or outside @ 100 yards it's good.
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Old November 8, 2018, 09:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
I don't think .223 over-penetrates as much as a 12 ga (unless you use birdshot) or a 9 mm handgun.
After reading that statement, I decided to do some reading... with the understanding that everything you get off the internet is worth what you paid for it. I'm going to have to say I agree, now, or at least to the extent that it really doesn't make that big of a difference.
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Old November 8, 2018, 10:28 AM   #6
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You can buy tactical shotgun loads of #4 shot made by Federal that cut down on penetration. But other than frangible bullets, I am unaware of such things for 223. You could load light varmint bullets to mitigate penetration, I suppose.

M855 and SS109 would be something to avoid. Part of the impetus behind the development of M855A1 is to overcome the tendency of the older, standard versions to fail to tumble in soft tissue and instead to make a straight-through "pencil" hole that has poor stopping results. But M855A1, with its solid copper core and lack of start pressure reducing bands, is loaded to higher pressures and has been causing ejection system issues and short barrel life in testing, so I would not want to put much of it through one of my guns even if it were generally available. That said, since banded solids are longer than standard construction bullets of the same weight, they will fly with lower stability factors and be more prone to tumble if that's of interest to you, so you could look at ammunition loaded with them from the effectiveness standpoint. But penetration will tend to increase rather than decrease with them.
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Old November 8, 2018, 10:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
M855 and SS109 would be something to avoid. Part of the impetus behind the development of M855A1 is to overcome the tendency of the older, standard versions to fail to tumble in soft tissue and instead to make a straight-through "pencil" hole that has poor stopping results.
I agree... I think generic M193/55grn FMJ would be a better choice than M855.
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Old November 8, 2018, 10:53 AM   #8
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American eagle is now loading a 50gn ballistic tip that is designed for varmint shooting. Its super inexpensive, like $8.99/box. So you can afford to get a GOOD zero and train with it.

In a pure Home defense setting (ie. mostly frontal shots, no real need for barrier penetration, ect) it would make a good SD load.

The comparison to Military loads is flawed. HD use has VERY little in common with the requirements in Mil ammo. The Mil loads are designed to be used against troops wearing armor at much longer ranges then any HD scenario.

I forget the exact requirement for the M855 round, but it was along the lines of “must penetrate a helmet at 300yds”, or some such. Thats why it zips right thru people leaving a very small hole.

A lightweight varmint round is devastating in soft tissue. Are you going to shoot thru cars with it? No, but a center chest hit on a badguy inside your house will be impressive.
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Old November 8, 2018, 12:40 PM   #9
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I haven't done any research (one of my house guns is a 38 Special with max. loads of W231 uder a DEWC and the other a 9mm loaded with JHP so I'm not concerned/informed with .223/5.56) but off the top of my head I'd think a jacketed 22 cal bullet zipping along at around 3,000 fps would have a tendency to penetrate a bit more than a 33 caliber soft lead ball at around 1,100 to 1,600 fps. Jes me thinkin'...

Can anyone offer a link the some info? Thanks.
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Old November 8, 2018, 08:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
I'd think a jacketed 22 cal bullet zipping along at around 3,000 fps would have a tendency to penetrate a bit more than a 33 caliber soft lead ball at around 1,100 to 1,600 fps. Jes me thinkin'...

Depends entirely on how that .22 bullet is built and what it goes through. Solids like FMJ military bullets penetrate a lot, and will do more than that soft lead ball, BUT if the .22 slug is built to expand rapidly on very light resistance (varmint bullet) it will break into itty bitty pieces and lose penetration capability very rapidly compared to a bigger, slower, heavier lead ball that will mush out a bit and still retain mass and most of its energy.
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Old November 9, 2018, 01:35 AM   #11
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My immediate thought on reading your thread title was in error. When you say AR 15 defense ammo, my mind only returns subsonic 300 Blackout. This is a perfect scenario for 300 BLK. It is, in fact, what I am in the process of assembling, and specifically for that reason. I had no interest in the AR platform at all until I discovered the AR 15 Pistol in 300 Blackout, and now received spousal approval to place the kit order.
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Old November 9, 2018, 05:27 AM   #12
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I use Hornaday 55gr VMAX, even though it seems a split decision - some think it's terrible, and others think it's great. I have heard some PDs issue it, but I don't have any cites. I would think at HD range it would do well, and as stated above, would be less likely to over penetrate. However, i haven't found any shooting data with it. I might switch to Hornaday Critical Defense...if I can find it a wee bit cheaper than I have so far!
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Old November 9, 2018, 02:35 PM   #13
gregnsara
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I guess I should have clarified the question. I'm looking to reload something I can shoot at distance that is good ballistically. I have my in home defense covered. I'm just looking for something besides fmj. HP or SP maybe. Just wondering what out there was good. The V Max is something I'm leaning toward, just looking for options.
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Old November 9, 2018, 04:49 PM   #14
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Any of the match 68/69/75/77 grain bullets should work well. I was also very impressed by the 64 grain WW PP bullet out of my .223 and 22/250, never found anything else that killed coyotes so consistently. All the bullets I recovered were mushroomed and did not blow up.

Lost a lot of wounded coyotes before with the light bullets that would shatter on a leg, hip or rib. Always tried to track them down, and some made it 300 yards before expiring, or was never found. Don't remember ever losing one to the 64. Show some javelina and deer with that bullet as well with very good results.
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Old November 9, 2018, 09:07 PM   #15
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"my mind only returns subsonic 300 Blackout. This is a perfect scenario for 300 BLK."

Here's what I found when testing 300AAC sub-sonic hunting ammo. I tried two brands-Hornady and SIG by shooting water filled plastic jugs @ 100 yards.
The SIG was a failure as the bullets either bored a hole or tumbled. Tumbling is devastating BUT it wasn't consistent---some did and some didn't.
The Hornady did expand modestly while penetrating 3'+. Better than the SIG as it's performance was consistent but not what I want for SD.
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Old November 23, 2018, 09:24 PM   #16
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I load 68gr hornady match/25.3gr Blc-2 as my shtf "bulk SD/HD" In my experience these match bullets of hornadys really come apart, not as violently as varmint designated projectiles but they definitely arent built to penetrate especially compared to my other ar15 SD/hunting load 26gr of cfe223 under a 62gr barnes tsx.

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Old November 23, 2018, 10:04 PM   #17
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I will use what I have confidence in. Sierra 65 gr Game King SBT.
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Old November 23, 2018, 10:22 PM   #18
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An interesting question. My .357 gets me to my 12 gauge Mossy, my AR backs that up, but I doubt the confrontation will ever get that far. It's loaded with 55 grn ball.
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Old November 24, 2018, 08:08 PM   #19
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ive loaded 55gr Nosler varmaggedons. I think these would be best used in the HD role if over-penetration is a concern .
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Old November 24, 2018, 08:40 PM   #20
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my 5.56 is a 1:7 16", Favorite bullets weights 60-80gr Maybe some 55gr if they're long.
I pretty much made a list of what I would consider for good defensive options In that weight range for when I was faced with the same decision.

In no particular order-

Barnes TSX 55gr-70gr
Nosler E-Tip Spitzer BT 55gr-70gr
Hornady GMX HP 55gr-70gr
Nosler AccuBond Bonded Spitzer BT 70gr
Nosler Bonded Performance 64gr
Speer 70Gr Semi-Spitzer
Speer Gold Dot Rifle 62gr Bonded SP
Winchester 64gr Power-Point
Swift Scirocco Bonded Spitzer BT 62-75gr
Sierra GameKing 65gr Spitzer BT
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Old November 27, 2018, 05:08 PM   #21
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Quote:
gregnsara asked:
Just wondering what everyone's opinion is for the best AR15 defensive bullet to load?
There is none.

There is no such thing as a Universal "best" bullet, "best" load or "best" anything else. If I can do nothing else with this post, it would be to banish the very concept of "best" from your mind forever. What works "best" in one situation will not be "best" in another. You need to sit down, assess your vulnerabilities, assess what your rifle is cable of, assess what you want it to do and only after you have made these decisions, start pursuing a load to meet your own particular needs.

About 70 years ago, the Army decided the "best" load used a 55 grain bullet. About 30 years ago, they changed that to a 62 grain bullet. For them, the "best" changed with a changing environment.

In my own case, I optimized a 223/5.56 loading for the various Ruger Mini-14s my family owned at the time. It was a Hornady 60 grain Spire Soft Point or 60 grain Spire Hollow Point bullet over 20.3 gains of IMR-4198 powder intended for use under 200 meters (the longest unobstructed distance on the land we owned at the time).

Please note that when I developed this load, 20.3 grains of IMR-4198 was well-below a maximum load. Subsequent loading manuals now show this to be a load that is above Maximum Load. If you are developing a new load, PLEASE follow proper load development procedures and begin with the Starting Load from a current manual and work up incrementally from there.
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Old November 27, 2018, 05:10 PM   #22
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Defense against what?
An angry mob of squirels???
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Old November 28, 2018, 07:38 PM   #23
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I bought several thousand federal pilled 62gr fusion bullets awhile back. They have been tested on deer and coyote and perform real well. I load em behind a charge of h335 wanna say its 24grs.
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Old November 28, 2018, 07:57 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bacardisteve
I bought several thousand federal pilled 62gr fusion bullets awhile back. They have been tested on deer and coyote and perform real well. I load em behind a charge of h335 wanna say its 24grs.
Have you by chance chronographed this load?
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Old December 4, 2018, 10:07 PM   #25
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There's a school of legal thought that says use only standard velocity factory FMJ ammo in a defense gun.

That way, if the DA decides to prosecute you after you squeezed the trigger, he can't portray you to the local media and to the jury as some kind of wild-eyed gun nut who hand loaded and then laid-in-wait to fire off his home brew envelope-pushing super-lethal killer ammo designed and crafted to inflict maximum damage.

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